Police officers in Penns Grove broke up a house party Saturday night, with more than 30 people in attendance, just after Gov. Phil Murphy’s coronavirus lockdown order went into effect.
The tenant, a man in his 30s, was charged with a disorderly persons offense, Penns Grove Police Chief Patrick Riley Sr. said.
The nature of the party was not clear, but Riley said it appeared the revelers were making videos of each other, with the plan of uploading them to YouTube.
Murphy’s executive order prohibiting parties, celebrations and other social events went into effect at 9 p.m. Saturday. He followed that order on Sunday by saying he was “really damned unhappy” with people ignoring the directive. Then, on Monday, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal promised “serious legal consequences” to those who didn’t comply.
Riley told NJ Advance Media that three police officers were dispatched to the two-story house on Lanning Avenue in response to a noise complaint, sometime between 10 p.m. Saturday and midnight.
“It was a very busy night, as our call volume has increased,” Riley said, explaining that domestic violence complaints are up in Penns Grove amid the coronavirus scare.
Only the tenant, whose name was not provided, was charged because the others in attendance agreed to disperse, Riley said. The house consists of four apartment units, and some were inside and others were outside.
Officers were not wearing masks but did their best to safeguard themselves, using hand sanitizer afterward.
Riley, though, said there is no way for officers to fully eliminate the risk to themselves, when venturing into a crowd.
“We’re very limited in what we can do. We try to keep our distance,” Riley said.
As of Monday afternoon, New Jersey had 2,844 known coronavirus cases with 27 deaths.
In a post to the police department’s Facebook page, Riley implored residents to take seriously concerns about the coronavirus.
“I ask the citizens to please adhere to the Governor’s executive orders as this is the only way we will be able to stop the spread of the very dangerous virus. Again thank you for your cooperation and patience during these very uncertain times,” Riley said.
Penns Grove is 5,100 and covers just under one square mile. It is located across the Delaware River, with Wilmington on the other side.
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